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After Seeing Enough Signs, Family Takes Plunge and Opens BBQ Spot in Newport

Friday nights in Newport recently got tastier with the opening of Webb's Barbecue at 115 East 9th Street. What was once Detroit Joe's is now a family-owned restaurant open one day a week that promises delicious smoked meats and sides.

The Webb family began its barbecue slowly and methodically, first starting out feeding friends and family, then doing some catering for small gatherings, and then eventually believing that they may need a place of their own.

“A friend of mine tried my barbecue and liked it and next thing you know, he was asking me to do some for his family and some for his church. It grew from 20 people to 50 people and started getting phone calls for larger parties. We started thinking that maybe we should look into doing catering because we were just doing that more for just friends for free,” said Joe Webb. “It's grown to the point where we had to find a commercial kitchen and we approached the former owners of Detroit Joe's. We called them up and asked if they would be interested in renting their kitchen.”

Joe and his wife Lesley both work full-time jobs and have two school-aged daughters. The family had been toying with the idea of opening a barbecue business but were very patient to reach the decision to finally do it. Time is not always easy to find for a working family that also owns a restaurant, so for now, they're only open on Fridays from 11:30 a.m. - 8 p.m., or until the food runs out that day. 

“It kind of grew out of a Bible study. We had some friends that said we needed to think about doing this and we debated for a very long time and just didn't know if we were ready for that. I'm a real estate appraiser full time and she is a full time kindergarten teacher. To go from doing barbecue at nights and weekends to being open one day a week was a big leap of faith,” Joe said.

The Webbs are a church-going family and it was through their church that Joe and Lesley found the inspiration to finally pull the trigger on entering the barbecue business.

“We were at church at Crossroads one day and the pastor said if you're going to start a business, quit thinking about it and do it. We looked at each other and asked if that was a sign. We kept looking for signs,” said Joe.

“Someone called right after that and needed a wedding reception for like 250 people so we though it was time,” added Leslie.

Their daughters, Sandy and Maddy, also work at Webb's on Fridays cleaning and waiting tables.

“It's great time that we get to spend with our girls,” Joe said.

There is no rush for the family to add to its operational hours. Before that even becomes a possibility, they are determined first to better learn the process and focus on how to improve their business. They don't want to bite off more than they can chew. 

“I want to make sure there is a demand because the restaurant is a tough business and there are a lot of great restaurants around here,” Joe said. “We're rookies on the block and we want to learn as we go.”

The family first got their taste of a real business when they participated in the Taste of Newport in June last summer. They also catered dress rehearsals and wedding receptions along the way before opening as a restaurant the weekend before Thanksgiving.

Joe smokes all of his meats from pulled pork to ribs to chicken wings to brisket which will soon be offered at the restaurant. Sides include collard greens, macaroni and cheese, baked beans, green beans, and more. They also feature two homemade sauces. They purchased their large smoker from St. Louis and had to hitch it to the back of their truck in order to set it up in Newport.

When the weather warms up, Webb's intends to open up their back patio for outdoor dining.

Now that their operation is set up, the Webb's are eager to become a member of the Newport business community and feed the masses hungry for barbecue. On their first day, Webb's saw over 300 customers. On average, their Friday nights have come in around 80-100 diners.

“We want this to be a family restaurant,” Joe said. “It's kind of like your mom's house, we will never turn somebody away.”

Written by Bryan Burke, associate editor

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